Adoption of 3D printing by SMEs in the North-West

This is a multidisciplinary project funded by the University of Manchester whose aim is to develop more comprehensive understanding of adoption of 3D printers by SMEs. Specifically, the project will seek to: a) compare motivations, barriers, changes in the firm organization, underpinning scientific knowledge and skills requirements of a set of firms that have adopted 3D printers for the manufacturing of the products; and b) carry out a scoping exercise to analyse the feasibility of firms’ opportunity of transforming their business model through the adoption of 3D printers, increasing their competitiveness, and the impact on the organization of innovation and production. We are particularly interested to work with manufacturing companies in the health sector.

What do we offer?

For those companies that are interested in participating in the project, we offer access to a 3D-printer for approximately 3 weeks (during November-February period). The 3D printer will be made available in-situ to your company and one of our expert and highly skilled engineers will work in close collaboration with you helping to learn how to use the technology, understand the design requirements, select the right materials and assess the quality of final product. We will provide a report at the end of our engagement with your company about the technology as well as practical managerial recommendations for the adoption of the technology.

What do we need?

We need the commitment of your firm to participate in the project. Specifically, we will engage with one of your employees for 2-3 days (as it fits best your day to day activities, full days or fractions) for a hands-on learning experience about the technology. We also require some time from the company decision-makers (e.g., CEO, product innovation leaders, etc.) that could commit a couple of hours for an interview about the motivations, barriers and skills related to the adoption of 3D printers.

Next steps

If you are interested in the project and would like to participate, please send an email to including your company name, sector, and 2-3 lines explaining your current knowledge and expertise on 3D printers and the reasons why you would like to adopt this technology. In the case we receive more interested companies than those we can include in the study, we will need to make a selection in order to create a heterogenous group of companies with different expertise and requirements.

Who are we?

The project involves a team of five researchers with engineering and management background affiliated to the Alliance Manchester Business School and the Faculty of Science and Engineering at The University of Manchester.